Entertainment The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
160k votes 11.3k voters 146.8k views 295 items

List Rules Only individual songwriters of *rock songs* who are still alive. No duos. No bands.

Who is the best songwriter alive today? The musician responsible for the lyrics and music that's the most memorable, significant and lasting in all of rock history, who is still with us today. We're talking, over the course of an entire career, the person who has written the most great songs--the best songwriters of the 21st century. A few things to keep in mind: (1) Songwriting teams are acceptable if they truly worked together (for example, Elton John writing music to Bernie Taupin's lyrics). When possible, as in the case of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, separate them and focus on individual songwriting. (2) LIVING songwriters. Living. (3) I think the ratio of "great songs" to "not good songs" is important to consider. If someone has 2 classic albums of great songs and then 5 albums worth of garbage, that impacts the overall view of the career, no matter how good the original work was. Something to keep in mind.

Add your own selections below and vote up the people you feel are worthy of the title of Greatest Living Rock Songwriter. PLUS, if you have Spotify, you can listen to full songs from each of the listed songwriters on our Ranker playlist!
Ranker may collect a commission from links on this page. Prices & inventory are accurate as of publish date.
list ordered by

1
3,046 2,744
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

2
2,564 2,752
Bob Dylan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Benjamin Dunn added Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

3
2,543 1,595
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
1,396 2,393
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

5
1,314 2,430
Ranker Video
Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

6
1,097 1,960
Billy Joel is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Timetraveler55 added Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

7
1,250 2,147
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

8
793 1,291
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

9
858 1,591
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

10
899 1,820
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

11
1,184 1,823
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

12
992 1,793
Carole King is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
KirkSaw added Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

13
959 1,402
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

14
713 1,480
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

15
906 1,785
Ranker Video
Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

16
685 1,431
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

17
603 752
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

18
509 623
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

19
594 1,068
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

20
416 235
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock

21
713 927
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

22
461 663
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

23
620 823
Ranker Video
New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

24
503 462
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

25
722 1,022
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added New Wave, Pop music, Rock music